For a guy all about rings, King James sure sweats the individual stuff.
In 2003, LeBron James reached the NBA. Since then, he has been named Rookie of the Year, MVP four times, Finals MVP twice and All-Star Game MVP twice, for good measure.
You can argue that LeBron deserved to win even more accolades, but no one will ever say: “You know what the career of LeBron James sadly lacks? Things presented by sportswriters that indicate he is good at basketball.”
Yet LeBron still seems to spend a lot of thing thinking about this shortage, praising Steph Curry for his unprecedented unanimous MVP win by noting “Look at Steph’s numbers. He averaged 30, he led the league in steals, he was 90-50-40, and they won 73,” but also musing, “I think sometimes the word ‘valuable’ or best player of the year, you can have different results.”
LeBron, we won’t think of you much differently if you retire with eight MVPs or the mere four you have now. Our opinion will change if you bring a title to Cleveland.
First things first: Kudos to King James for being able to reel off Chef Curry’s resume like that! (LeBron probably has him on his fantasy team.)
Second, it feels like he’s going out of his way to suggest that if LeBron had a vote for MVP, it would not go to a certain Golden State player.
LeBron has critiqued awards selections before, notably when Defensive Player of the Year did not go to him: “To be honest, I feel I’ve been snubbed two years in a row, and I’m serious. And that’s one selfish thing about me.” (He has been “snubbed” on to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team five times.)
Look, my own reaction to hearing Steph Curry was the first unanimous MVP wasn’t, “Steph totally deserves it.”
It was, “There were sportswriters dumb enough to vote against Jordan?”
And on some level it must drive LeBron crazy that Steph Curry is so celebrated because, for all Steph’s talents, Coach Steve Kerr will never take his 6’3”, 190-pound MVP aside and say: “Tonight, I’m putting you on the other team’s best player: You play point guard, he plays center, but shut ’im down anyway, kid.”
Which is something LeBron has been asked to do throughout his career.
Actually, don’t back me up on this, LeBron. Because this is an argument you can never win.
Think of it in these terms: In soccer, there has been a long-running debate over whether Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is the better player.
There are strong arguments for Messi (while younger than Ronaldo, he’s won more titles and more World Player of the Year Awards than his rival while setting the single-season goals record and serving as the key to two Treble winners) and for Ronaldo as well (nothing’s coming to mind—sorry, this one’s always felt like arguing Michael-Jordan’s-good-but-he’s-no-Clyde-Drexler! to me).
That said, should you still be undecided, one of the better cases for Messi as the guy you’d want on your team is that he declines to discuss individual honors and seems genuinely thrilled when teammates succeed. The celebrations with Neymar and Luis Suarez are joy personified.
Whereas Ronaldo occasionally takes teammates scoring goals that might have been scored by him as a personal offense, complete with extended sulking.
When Steph was out of the lineup during the playoffs, it was easy for fans to realize I love him even now as he celebrated like an injured lunatic while Golden State kept rolling.
Whereas when LeBron is forced to be a cheerleader, it tends to get weird, notably the time he decided to co-coach a Cavaliers game.
In conclusion: LeBron, we won’t think of you much differently if you retire with eight MVPs or the mere four you have now.
Our opinion will change if you bring a title to Cleveland.
So please focus on that dream, leave Steph alone (you’re bigger than him—and your son, 11-year-old LeBron Jr., probably is too) and be glad you don’t have David Blatt to push around anymore.